On October 24, a video published in Persian-language media showed Iranian police using tear gas and an electric shock weapon on a man who was handcuffed to a pole and could not move. The video was widely shared on social media such as Telegram, where users call the man “Iran’s George Floyd.” In the wake of the video, the man died in an ambulance on his way to the hospital.
The recent pattern of Iranian police violence intensified with this man’s death in Mashhad in northeastern Iran on October 24, after “scam parades” of suspected criminals took place in several cities over the past few weeks.
The victim was 30-year-old Mehrdad Sepehri. According to Iranian media, his wife’s family called the police after a family disagreement. When police arrived, they handcuffed Sepehri to a pole and continued to harass him, even though he posed no threat, as seen in this video.
Sepehri became unconscious on his way from the police station to the hospital and was pronounced dead at the ambulance. The cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
After this video was shared online, many Iranian users began calling Mehrdad Sepehri “the Iranian George Floyd” on social media. The reaction intensified after another video showing the victim’s body in a morgue with several bruises all over his body was released.
“Mehrdad Sepehri, Iran’s George Floyd” After the setback, Iran’s state envoy rushed to help the Iranian police justify the death. In several reports, Iranian state television presented the victim as violent, despite evidence shown in the video online.
Meanwhile, on October 25, Mashhad’s military prosecutor announced that the victim’s family had filed a lawsuit against the police officer. He has been arrested and an investigation has been launched into the case.
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This has been the third occurrence of police violence in Iran in the last three weeks. On two separate occasions, Iranian police have killed men in the process of arresting them in the Esfaray and in the Shahriar.
While videos showing police violence in Iran are not uncommon, the persecution of the perpetrator is often so.
In some cases, the police may even be praised by the police for their use of force, as seen by beating a young girl for “immoral behavior” in June 2019.
Article written by Ershad Alijani